|Disclaimer: This is an independently written article by the author without allegiance to any political party, ideology or government. |
Today morning we saw a tweet from Jeff Smith US south Asian expert stationed in this part of the world (https://twitter.com/Cold_Peace_/status/1497234558986641408?s=20&t=x9VowQjZH_EKUgABC973rA) This was after US spokesperson sympathized with India’s position with Russia. Terming the diplomatic relationship between India and Russia distinct from the relationship that Washington shares with Moscow, State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Friday conference said that ‘Of course, that is okay. The Biden administration official said this while underlining that the US has asked every country that has leverage with Moscow to use it to protect rules-based international order.
But it’s not all that easy to rationalise and balance the equations. Of course, it will have ramifications on both sides as India abstains from the UNSC vote against Russia along with China and UAE. This is a devil’s choice and we are sure the Modi government might have given it due thought and consideration before remaining away for the special session of UNSC voting. With a very knowledgeable External affairs minter DR Jaishankar leading the thought process and policymaking at SouthBlock, it is very less likely that the Modi government will commit any sort of hara-kiri or self destruction whether in terms of image or strategic outcomes.
International diplomacy is a complex issue where one has to be not only clever- outspoken and quiet at times. like politics, there are no permanent foes or friends in this sphere of life. Its a changing global scenario and international along with self-interests that dictates the policies and giveaways or takeaways. However, there are also bonds that go beyond strategic rationale and are based on common shared values and culture.
The US – India relationship is based more on these shared values and a common pro-democratic, liberal culture along with strategic partnerships of late.
With Russia, we have a more strategic partnership because of our geographical locations on earth. Its always good to befriend nations that are one or two nations away from our own borders, but not too far. This allows a better understanding of each other’s concerns as well as unites for common grounds. China shares borders with both India and Russia. Though of late Russia is showing more interest in Chinese friendship, logically India fits more favourable into Russian security concerns. For India also Russia acts as a big buffer against China as well as Pakistan. During the Nixon era when America went towards China and Pakistan Russia and India got cosier and the relationship has since then just sustained and became stronger by the day.
The same cannot be said with respect to America. While we shared values there was not much ice break on the ground. The Americans always mistrusted Indians over its links with Russia and even considered it as a stooge of the soviets while ignoring their role for the same – if at all. However, with rising China and as a direct threat to US, the policymakers started looking towards India and started giving concessions and arms. Meanwhile, they also came to know about the Pakistani duplicity also while fighting in Afghanistan. The soviet invasion of Afghanistan has made them too close.
This is in a nutshell the US- India_ Russia scenario whether one likes or not. With US-China going to compete in days to come , and the US- Russia having competition the balance is now tilting towards US- India strategic relationship and hence we see the QUAD group formation in the indo pacific. This has become a bone of contention not only with China but Russia also.
While history suggests that we should go along with Russia not only for the reasons cited above but we have been heavily dependent on Russian arms and ammunition from Sukhoi to tanks and all in between.
In view of the same, it will not be easy for India to show favour to any of these nations whether they understands or not. It’s a perfect devil’s alternative where one mistake can have huge consequences as Ukrainian President Zelensky must have realised.
While India stands with the people of Ukraine and its government, it’s not practical for India to take sides at this moment condemning Russia or even calling it a Russian invasion officially. To remain to abstain from UNSC then was just logical and rational. Neither America nor Ukraine should mind this and the US spokesperson, therefore, has rightly said – Its Ok – over India’s remaining absence at UNSC. Unofficially the Indian government would very much like to say – Sorry – to Ukrainians, on humanitarian grounds as all war leads to destruction only, and there should not be any doubts over this. But then Ukraine must also realise that it has been active against India’s position in Kashmir. International relations work on quid pro quo and there should not be any mistake on it. We have to be clear about what we say and what we do. Recently some other nations like Turkey and Malaysia have also tried to be vocal against India without realising its consequences at a later date. Small nations have to be careful in this regard and we appreciate the position of Saudi Arab, UAE etc which have shown more maturity in this regard though being closer to Pakistan atleast on the religious front.
The world is going through a major transformation and all countries have to tread carefully. There are sharks and there are fishes. India is neither shark nor fish. It’s something in between. Thus India is lucky to exercise its choices and can evaluate the results. No one knows what happens tomorrow and which side the balance will tilt. India may get closer to US or Russia or even remain neutral. As a large sovereign country, India reserves the right to act in favour of what is good and beneficial for herself no matter how the situation looks from a humanitarian or moral point of view. That should make the position of India clear to everyone without malice towards one and all. India stands for peace as always and holds the Gandhian principle of non-violence. But it also reserves the right to defend its own interests through any means diplomatically, militarily or even with the use of nuclear power should the situation warrant.
Note: This is an independently written article by the author without allegiance to any political party, ideology or government.